Fighting with My Family

Fighting with My Family

(2019)

Comedy biopic written and directed by Stephen Merchant (The Office), based on the 2012 documentary The Wrestlers: Fighting with my Family, which tells the story of WWE wrestler Paige (Florence Pugh, Lady Macbeth). Dwayne Johnson appears in the film and is also among the producers.... More

Born into a tight-knit wrestling family, Paige and her brother Zak (Jack Lowden, Dunkirk) are ecstatic when they get the opportunity to try out for the WWE. But when only Paige earns a spot, she must leave her family behind and face this new cut-throat world alone.Hide

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Flicks Review

From The Office right through to Logan, British comedian Stephen Merchant has a thing for dysfunctional “families”. And he’s picked a doozy for his debut as solo writer/director.... More

Based on a British TV documentary about a clan of wrestlers from Norwich, “the mustard capital of England”, Fighting with My Family introduces dad Patrick (Nick Frost), mum Julia (Lena Headey), son Zak (Jack Lowden) and daughter Paige (Florence Pugh)—the other brother’s in jail for putting someone in a coma. “We love the buzz,” explains Julia. “It’s like coke and crack and heroin combined.” Best not ask how she knows this.

While the spine of the film is Paige’s journey to America to become a WWE wrestler under the tutelage of Hutch Morgan (Vince Vaughn), it keeps cutting back to Norwich to show Zak struggling with being left behind. It’s a shame because Paige’s fish-out-of-water scenes are by far the funniest. “People liked it in Norwich,” she tells Vaughn of her act. “But here they have running water,” is his acid response.

Elsewhere there’s a lot going on, perhaps too much. The Rock pops in for an awkward cameo; Zak seems to be operating in a gritty, Full Monty-style Britcom; and the siblings’ stories intersect messily through Skype calls and montages. But it all comes together during a Christmas visit home, where Zak gets into a fight choreographed to Cliff Richard’s Mistletoe and Wine, and Pugh gets to show her dramatic chops.

By the time she’s prepping for her big WWE debut, you’ll be fully onboard. Yes, Glow and Dodgeball did this kind of material better, but Merchant has a great ear for dialogue, a strong cast, and a story so good you’ll swear he made it up.Hide


The Peoples' Reviews

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First off - those of you expecting a Dwayne Johnson led wrestling action/comedy will be disappointed. This is not The Rock's film. He's reduced to a mere cameo, which is fine, because it leaves space in the ring for Florence Pugh's wrestler Paige - to shine. With crackles of humour littered throughout, Stephen Merchant directs a rather mainstream wrestling biopic? that never fully commits to outright comedy or hardcore Mickey Rourke. An underutilized Vince Vaughn, who basically plays Vince... More Vaughn with a WWE shirt on, claims one of the films most touching moments but is one of several support players who get lost in the shuffle. Despite Pugh's earnest efforts, the film never really achieves a bone- crunching smackdown.Hide


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The Press Reviews

  • A couple of scenes with The Rock don't energise a run-of-the-mill sports story. Full Review

  • Within the context of a sport that thrives on artifice, writer-director Stephen Merchant spins a story whose emotions feel entirely genuine. Full Review

  • It's often broadly funny but never mean or patronising; it takes the Knights, their eccentricities and quixotic aspirations seriously, but not enough to squelch the fun. Full Review

  • What's surprising is how well all of this suplex-to-nuts biopic works...[but] see it for Florence Pugh's fireplug turn. Full Review

  • The boastful, performative nature of WWE, spiked with mini dramas and constant role-playing, becomes the lingua franca of an atypical household in Fighting with My Family, the sweetest of comedies despite a sizable number of body slams. Full Review

  • "Fighting With My Family" may not be an Oscar contender but it has enough wit, heart, energy and good cheer to make it a fun watch even for non-wrestling fans. Full Review

  • If you want a good laugh, you'll find it here. If you want some Rocky-style physical exertion, you'll get your fill. Even if you're not all that interested in pro wrestling, the serious talent has a solid chance of winning you over anyway. Full Review

  • Despite a great real-life background story, and despite comedy master Stephen Merchant being at the helm as writer-director, this movie never really comes off. Full Review

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